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Filtering by Category: on grieving (and healing)

gosh i miss you like crazy.

liz lamoreux

The stories are stacking up inside me, and instead of thinking about all that I should be sharing or what this blog should look like now that I've got a bright shiny new website coming out, I just want to share some of the little snippets of stories that I'm trying to catch. Like this one, shared over on Instagram earlier this week.

It's my last day in my 30s and I woke up with questions for my grandmother. I've lived a decade plus of birthdays without her voice singing in my ear. I've lived more than a decade of mornings unable to call her to say all the things.

So I walked around my yard this morning, like she did every day at her South Carolina home, and checked out the new growth. Letting in the crazy beauty that is this life.

And if I could, I'd call her and say:

I think these might be big purple blooms whenever they're ready. And the little pink guys, like the neighbor's have, are hanging in there. I want to plant a butterfly bush to invite in your hummingbirds. Mom says she thinks the two little ones under the maple are peonies and we've got to move them when it's not so hot because they don't get any sun. Imagine if I have peonies? The noise from the busy road is loud this morning. All those people zooming to work. I'm in the studio alone today. Writing and making a few things. It's a good life over here, even when it feels upside down. You'd love the light in this house. Might even change your mind about this part of the country. And oh how you'd love the energy and wit of the six year old living here. Gosh I miss you like crazy.

grief and hummingbirds and feeling all the feelings

liz lamoreux

I've been missing my grandmother these last few days. Her birthday was Saturday, and she would have been 92...or is it 93 now? It's been 10 years since she died. And even though I had her in my life for 28 years, the 10 years since I've heard her voice feel wide and deep right now.

In the nooks and crannies of this blog you'll find me talking about how spring invites me to miss her deeply while at the same time, it always bringing her back to me. Some days I even sense her around the edges of the pushing toward the sky tulips and the unfurling leaves and the rain as it drips. Some days I even hear her whispering to me.

This is the gift of grief: It breaks us open and teaches us about love in ways we never knew possible.

On Saturday, Ellie and I went on a little artist date adventure around Tacoma and we kept seeing hummingbirds. I was strapping Ellie into her car seat at one point and said, "There's another hummingbird." And she said, "They must have heard you tell me it was Grandma's birthday when we were standing in the backyard and they've come to visit us today." Yes, honey, exactly that.

I guess today, I just really want you to know that you can feel all the feelings when grief arrives. But try remember to keep your heart open to the little unexpected joys and the truths tapping on your shoulder.

Over the weekend, I was looking for something in my blog archives and came across these words from five years ago and felt moved to share them again today.

i heard your laughter today. it rang out inside me like a whisper from long ago. years now. the last time we talked has been almost half a decade ago. in this moment, i want to tell you all that has happened. i was so lost, searching my pockets constantly for a flashlight so i could find my way. and then, through that darkness, that grief, that fear, i suddenly looked up and saw all the lights around me. some were far far in the distance, but they stood there waiting. patiently. while i just kept going, even when i found myself back in the same place for a bit. i would tell you about how i one day realized that the lights were not only surrounding me with their guidance and truth and love, but that the light lived within me. within me. and i knew i would never again be alone. did you learn this truth when you were here? how i wish i could tell you. how i wish i could invite you to stand in your light and know. in this moment, i sit here with this truth within my heart while another light within me grows and twirls and beats each day, waiting. and when she arrives, i will teach her this truth. maybe i am already teaching her. i will teach her about the light within her. i will tell her about the light grief gifted me. i will teach her about the day i thought i was never going to find my way and then i looked up. i will tell her all that you teach me even now. even now when your laughter seems to only live inside me.

i wait all year...

liz lamoreux

Just like last year, the crocuses came up but didn't bloom. But the cherry tree buzzed with bees today, and I found myself welcoming the beginning murmurings of Spring amidst the missing that comes each year on my grandmother's birthday. I wrote this piece last year and am sharing it here for the first time.


I wait all year for the day when the crocuses in my front yard seem to almost dance with their purple blooms reaching toward the sky.

I wait all year for this day that always falls just near her birthday. This day that pushes me to know that Spring is returning, as she always does, even when I doubt. This day that feels like the beginning of a conversation between us. Me, here, living this crazy beautiful life. Her, gone for eight years now, whispering to the budding trees and the pushing upward tulips, encouraging them to grow.

Almost every year during my childhood, I visited my grandparents during the spring. Some years it would be mid-March and the forsythia would be blooming. Other years it would be April and the azaleas and rhododendrons would appear like pink and purple dresses all around their town. My grandmother loved spring. She would name everything that was blooming when we walked around her yard, drove around town, visited the small lake near their house.

When she died on a day in April, it was during one of the most gorgeous springs her town had ever seen. Everything was in bloom. Everywhere. Trees. Bushes. Flowers shooting straight up from the ground. Pinks. Purples. Fuchsias. Yellows. Oranges. Reds. And she never saw any of it from her small hospital room. 

I remember feeling like I was in a fog, as though the world around me was almost in black and white. We were driving back to my grandparents’ home after the funeral and I suddenly noticed all those blooms. My heart felt broken knowing she would never see them again, knowing I would never hear her voice.

That next March, just before her birthday, when I was deeply doubting Spring could ever return outside or inside me, I was walking to get the mail and noticed the purple blooms of the crocuses in my front yard. 

As I stood there looking at the stripes and the unexpected burst of orange in the middle, a new kind of conversation began between us. Me, here, missing her so much I couldn’t breathe sometimes. Her, everywhere, breathing life into spring, into me.

But this year they didn’t bloom.

Nothing. Just green shoots and not one bud.

I tried to ignore it each day when I would look outside the kitchen window, cup of tea in hand. But when her birthday came and went last week without one bloom, I couldn’t deny that my crocuses weren’t blooming this year.

Even though of course the rational side of me knows that we won’t live in this house forever, that crocus buds do not really send a signal to my grandmother to visit me, part of me wondered if perhaps the conversation was coming to an end. If it was time to move on from this belief that she pauses in my front yard to remind the crocuses to bloom each year.

Thinking about this, I stood outside with the unexpected blue sky above me and the sun warming my head, and I put my arms out as though asking, “Are you there?”

I heard a whisper in that moment. A quiet, real voice saying, “You already know.”


(A version of this post originally appeared here.)

letting it be simple

liz lamoreux

This illustration by Kristin Noelle arrived in my inbox during her Santa Pause course in December. It was a whispered gift of understanding, and I'm thankful that she is letting me share it with you today along with why it meant so much to me.

My uncle died unexpectedly before Thanksgiving. And in the days after the holiday, when family had left and the house was quiet again, I had trouble sleeping. I would wake up after about three hours and my mind would suddenly remember and my heart felt so confused in that deep grief of knowing we wouldn't ever talk again. I would think about the postcard on my studio table that I'd written him but hadn't sent. I would try to remember what we talked about when I saw him for the last time almost five years ago. And I'd tried to hear his voice inside the memories of childhood joy.

Sometimes I would stay in bed, trying to sleep. More often I would read or get up. The days that followed felt thick with sadness and exhaustion. Grief sat next to me on the couch and quietly walked behind me when I would get up to go to the studio. It would catch me unaware in the lines of a Christmas song. And it would consistently wake me up.

One night while getting ready to crawl into bed, I picked up Jeero, a stuffed animal that sits on my bedside table. He's flat and kind of like a small pillow. I got into bed, pulled the covers up to my ears, turned on my side, and cuddled him to my chest. And I slept all night.

And it worked again the next night and the one after that. I've slept with him almost every night since.

I couldn't put into words why it was working until Kristin's email came with this illustration.

It helped me see that in the confusion of grief I just needed something to hold on to. I just needed something simple that wasn't about sharing my feelings or worrying I was grieving too much or bringing up all the other stacked up complicated feelings that can happen when someone dies.

Jeero the stuffed animal just shows up. He doesn't make it about him. He's just there, like a warm hug, letting me be me. And the truth is, in hugging him, I was giving myself the gift of taking care of me and listening to what I most needed.

I'm so grateful to Kristin for putting her stories and illustrations into the world so that others can recognize themselves and feel less alone. And for giving me permission to know it is okay to be a grown-up and to just want things to be as simple as a hug from a stuffed animal sometimes. 


Kristin Noelle is a Los Angeles-based illustrator. She creates soulful art that fosters a worldview of trust. Find her at www.kristinnoelle.com and be sure to check out Blessings - a 10-day series of inspired, illustrated blessings. Blessings is your chance to taste, for free, the work that Kristin will be offering the world all year through themed series of illustrations - on love, relationships, grief, parenting, money, and more.

keeping our hearts open

liz lamoreux

Variations on these words, "keeping our hearts open will heal us," have tapping on me this week. I can't stop thinking about how our hearts crack and mend, and how the mending comes when we let ourselves really live.

I've been thinking about this idea so much that I felt moved to make a little video and tell you a story about a poem I wrote about this idea and to share more about why I believe this is true.

The poem is from my poetry collection Five Days in April, which you can find in my shop.

To receive little reminders and love notes like this one in your inbox, sign up to receive my (almost) weekly newsletter here.

may 24

liz lamoreux

may 24

sometimes movies (and television and books) pull us out of our real lives in a way that can distract us from living deeply.

but other times, they give us just the tools we need in a moment to help us open up and feel and move through and be right here.

each time i watch the last movie (or read the seventh book) as harry potter walks through the forest with his parents + sirius + lupin believing he is walking to his death, and sirius points to his chest and says, "we're here you see" (in the book he says, "we're part of you"), each time my heart heals a bit more because i choose to believe he is right...


(as the tears began to fall as they always do when i watch this scene, i was inspired to pick up my camera in this moment by this week's prompt in Meredith and Kristin's Now You workshop.)

just keep writing...

liz lamoreux


a little over a year ago, i wrote this short poem and shared it in this space:

as i sit inside the missing
spring brings with her each year,
i pretend all of who you are
has arrived by chickadee wing
and your chosen path
is to slowly blow open
each petal of the crocus


As the rain falls while I write and answer emails from women who are opening their hearts to healing through creativity and sharing their stories, my own stories keep coming up and for some reason I thought of this poem.

Spring is all about my grandmother. So often as a child I would visit my grandparents in South Carolina during spreak break. Almost everything would be in bloom. And she would constantly comment on every single blooming plant we would see in their yard or driving in the car or walking by the lake. She was always chattering about the plants and the trees and the birds...and now I see she was always teaching me.

She died on a day in April seven years ago. And when I stepped out of the airport in South Carolina and stood on the curb waiting for my mother, I was forced to see that everything was in bloom. Everything. Purple. Red. Yellow. Orange. Fuschia. Light pink. Dogwoods. Azalias. Violets. Tulips. Redbud. Everywhere. When my mom drove me to the funeral home, I felt almost blinded by all the color that was such an over the top contrast to my cracked and starting to feel like it was crumbling heart.

When I returned home after her funeral, I didn't really notice Spring and how it gave way to Summer in my corner of the world. I was in the deep well of grief. But somewhere in that well, I found myself tumbling across a blog and then another one. And a bit of light started to get in. I started to carry my camera with me. I began to take notes about what I was seeing in the world. And the grief was thick. But I kept practicing yoga and taking photos and writing so I would not drown in it. And light kept coming in to those cracks in my heart that somehow did not crumble.

Almost a year later, I found myself somewhat bewildered that Spring would arrive without my grandmother's voice telling me about the flowers she had found blooming during her morning walk around her yard. Yet, Spring returned. And those flowers still bloomed across the country in my grandfather's yard. On the anniversary of her death, Gramps and I talked about how much we both missed her, and he told me the lily of the valley were almost ready to bloom.

On a day in March the following year, I remember sitting in the leather chair in my home office, looking out the window, and thinking about how the tulips were just pushing upward outside in my yard. And the missing hit me so hard I couldn't breathe for a moment. I just sat there with my heart hurting and my brain remembering. And I heard the chickadees singing in the cherry tree outside and this image came to me: Perhaps all that she was that is scattered in the world...scattered because of each breath, each conversation, each life path that crossed hers, each person that her children and grandchildren touched...that all of who she was is now part of the spirit that reminds each tulip and crocus and dandelion to bloom. 

I had the thought that perhaps she has just become part of Spring. Maybe she even is Spring now.

I sat there in that chair and wrote this poem:

On this day,
when the sun slips through the gray
and I hear the tulips push upward,
I know this:
Though I ache to lay my hand in yours
and walk around your yard
as you name each stretching green shoot,
you are happier dancing in the wind
grow, grow.

Today, as I sit here in a coffee shop writing as the rain falls and the tulips begin to bloom because Spring has arrived again, I am thinking about how this image of my grandmother reminding Spring to begin keeps finding its way into my writing and my poetry. I am thinking about how this image is like a prayer that is helping to stitch my heart together in the way that life does because we make the choice to keep paying attention and living and noticing how simply brilliant it is.

And as I sit here thinking about how Spring has returned again, I am thinking about how I am here doing this work, living this life, because I spent time in that deep well of grief and found my way out through breathing and noticing and sharing the stories and listening. And I kept walking the path, and with each turn there would be someone else standing holding her story like a lantern saying, “Me too. I know. Yes. Me too.” And I found my way. 

I sit here watching the rain and wanting to get so damn mad at Spring for appearing again and reminding me of the deep missing, but I can I hear her whispering “grow, grow,” and so I just keep writing and finding my way.

the missing

liz lamoreux


ellie jane and great (great) aunt honey

today, as i watched my daughter sit on your sister's lap, the missing caught me in its clutches. the missing. as she made the funniest sounds to get ellie jane to laugh, i began to silently will myself (with every cell) to be standing in a family room in south carolina (a family room that now belongs to another family). i thought that maybe i could just will myself to be standing in front of that rocking chair that i can just see in that photo from my first christmas. to be standing while watching you hold my daughter and purse your lips to vibrate them to make her giggle. her smile would heal you. this i know to be true. her smile would cause your heart to almost hurt with the joy you would feel in that moment when you would look up and catch my eye and we would be able to see the love between us. 

in this moment, as i sit in a quiet house looking at this photo, my heart hurts with the missing. i can actually feel a pain in the middle of my chest as i sit here. the missing. almost six years. it gets softer. it becomes like the train that whistles in the distance a few times a day that is just always there but not so loud that you notice it daily or even weekly. it is just there until the moment when you are dancing in the kitchen as neil diamond sings, "she got the way to move me, cherry" and then the playlist suddenly ends and it seems so very quiet until you hear that train call from miles away and you find yourself paying attention again. it catches you. and then you notice it each time for a while.

i know (oh how i know) that i was so lucky to know you, to call you my grandmother, my friend. i see the beauty in all that time we had together. i see the beauty in today as i think about the joy in the eyes of a 91-year-old woman holding a seven-month-old little girl as she giggled. and the missing is so much softer now. but in this moment, i take a deep breath and close my eyes and i say the truth: i want more days. i want more time. i want it to have happened differently. in this moment, i wish (for you. for me. for her) that i would open my eyes and find myself in a little house in south carolina. and you would know the little girl sleeping down the hall who heals with her smile. and i would hear your voice again. in this moment, i would hear your voice.